After being pushed farther and farther into the future back in 2020 owing to the global pandemic, the movies that are supposed to be the heart and soul of the Marvel Cinematic Universe final began their long-delayed release early this July with “Black Widow” starring Scarlett Johansson. Since COVID-is still prevalent, the premiere of the film on seating-limited cinemas was complemented by a simultaneous release for Disney+ streaming. Thus, the first weekend for “Black Widow” was remarkably solid for a mid-pandemic opening. However those returns were blown out of the water by Marvel-Disney’s longtime rival Warner Bros., which unleashed their “Space Jam” sequel last Friday.
In what is being seen as a dramatic turnaround, Disney and Marvel’s MCU movie “Black Widow” finds itself foundering on its second week following the premiere of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” last July 16 according to Deadline. Its first weekend (three days) box office run of $31.65 million is touted as the best opening of an out-and-out family film during the pandemic, even beating Warner-Legendary Pictures’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” ($31.62M) back in March. More importantly, this was way better than the second weekend of MCU film “Black Widow” which tanked $26.25M, or a dramatic 67% decrease from weekend 1.
What is notable is that both “Black Widow” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy” were released to the public in a similar double-premiere format, simultaneously in theaters and streaming. While on a critical front “A New Legacy” was savaged by reviewers who compared it unfavorably to the original 1996 film starring legendary NBA player Michael Jordan, this over-2-decade follow-up with current-gen league superstar LeBron James palling with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes is proving a hit with audiences, who believe the Lakers’ King James was a more convincing actor than Air Jordan at least.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” sees LeBron as a fictionalized version of himself, who has a strained relationship with his son Dom (Cedric Joe) due to his preferring a career in videogame development over basketball. When the two are visiting Warner Bros., the studio’s rogue self-aware A.I. Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) zaps them into the virtual environment of WB’s digital media library, holding Dom hostage and forcing LeBron to form a basketball team to challenge his “Goon Squad,” or allow Al-G to trap more people in the VR world. James teams up with Bugs and the Looney Tunes to save his son and beat Al-G.
The film is now running in cinemas and streaming for a limited time on HBO Max. Meanwhile, theater-owners are blaming the sudden box-office drop suffered by “Black Widow” on its Disney+ availability, which merely strips money going to cinemas. As for “A New Legacy,” LeBron James is cheekily calling out former naysayers claiming his film will was going to bomb.
Image courtesy of Rappler